Universal Life Insurance

Universal life insurance (often shortened to UL) is a type of permanent life insurance, primarily in the United States of America. Under the terms of the policy, the excess of premium payments above the current cost of insurance is credited to the cash value of the policy. The cash value is credited each month with interest, and the policy is debited each month by a cost of insurance (COI) charge, as well as any other policy charges and fees which are drawn from the cash value, even if no premium payment is made that month. Interest credited to the account is determined by the insurer, but has a contractual minimum rate (often 2%). When an earnings rate is pegged to a financial index such as a stock, bond or other interest rate index, the policy is an “Indexed Universal Life” contract. Since approximately 2005 most universal “UL” policies are designed to accumulate little or no cash value. These types of policies offer the advantage of guaranteed level premiums throughout the insured’s lifetime at substantially lower premium cost than an equivalent whole life policy. This not only allows for easy comparison of costs between carriers, but also works well in irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILIT’s) since cash is of no consequence.

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